Does glass shape really matter?
Looking at some of the weird and wonderful designs of wine glasses it has to be asked if shape really does influence the enjoyment of a specific wine. The answer is a definitive yes - wine glass shape does improve or detract from the taste and enjoyment of your wine. Just as everyone has a favourite cup for tea or coffee then every style of wine has a preferred design of glass shape to bring out its full potential.
Basic considerations when selecting a wine glass:
1. To get the most out of the aroma and the flavour of your wine, the glass needs to be completely free from cleaning detergent. This can often leave a greasy film which will affect the wine. It is recommended to hand-wash your delicate crystal glasses using hot water.
2. The glass needs to be clear and colourless to show the true colour of the wine. Cut crystal glasses are best avoided as they can distort the colour of the wine.
3. The wine glass should thin walled and preferrably in crystal - this is for the tactile nature of the glass in the mouth - thick glass will detract from the enjoyment
4. The glass should be big enough to be filled only a third of the way up to avoid any spillage when swirling the wine. You should be able to tilt the glass to about 45 degrees to reveal the true colour without spilling the wine.
5. The stem should be long enough to prevent the hand warming the bowl and the contents.
6. A stable base is vital and often over-looked to prevent spillages
7. The glass should be well-balanced and not top-heavy - it should be comfortable to use and unobtrusive
Glasses for red wines
Red wine glasses tend to feature a slightly wider bowl than their white wine counterparts. This allows for extra oxygenation of heavier red wines to soften down and open their bouquet in the glass. More aromatic red wines can often benefit from a slightly narrower bowl more akin to a white white glass. Beaujolais and Zinfandel for example can reelase and contain more flavours and aromas using a narrower bowl.
White wine glasses
White wine glasses are available in a variety of sizes and shapes but generally tend to have a narrower bowl to their red wine counterparts. A Sauternes or dessert wine glass should feature a wide bowl and a narrow opening to allow the build-up of the aromas to be concentrated on the nose.
Glasses for Champagne
Champagne and sparkling wines should always be served from a Champagne flute and not a saucer or wide bowl glass as favoured in the 1920's. The flute prolongs the life of the delicate bubbles (mousse) by reducing the surface area for the bubbles to escape. The narrow opening also slows the pouring of the Champagne and helps prevent the wine from frothing over. Straight-sided flutes look very chic but do require extra care with pouring and can lead to a quickening of the bubble escape.
Rose wine glasses
Rose or blush wines are best served in a red wine glass. One with a flared rim will accommodate the additional sweetness of the wine - a tulip shaped glass should be ideal for most rose wines.
Specialist glasswareMineral water
Water should be served in a straight sided water glass - ideally with a stem to prevent the hand from warming the contents. A cobalt blue glass is often found on dining tables to indicate what it is being used for and as a clear glass is not necessary for mineral water.Cognac and Brandy
A balloon or Cognac snifter features a very wide bowl and opening and a short stem. This ensures maximum release of aromas and allows the bowl to be cupped in the hand to gently warm the Cognac and agan release more delicate aromas.Amplifier Glass
The Vintners tasting glass is designed to exagerate the positive and negative qualities of a wine. The provide a true, uncompromising taste of the wine.Grappa and Marc
These glasses should be tall and slender with a flared opening to minimise the volume and cope with the highly viscous nature of the spirit.
Recognising the need for a single glass to suit all styles of wines at tasting events the ISO Wine Tasting Glass was developed. These glasses feature a taperd bowl with a concentrated opening to allow the maximum expression across the widest styles of wines possible. ISO glasses should be filled just to the widest part of the bowl, which is towards the bottom of the glass, to allow the wine to be swirled in the glass and tilted to reveal the wines colours.
The long, thick stems help prevent the contents from being influenced by heat from the hand and the feature a wide base to prevent accidental knocking at busy wine tasting events.